Erie Shores CEO Claiming COVID-19 Vaccines Used on Administration Before They Spoiled

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The CEO of Erie Shores HealthCare is further responding to last week's controversy over a public relations employee at the hospital receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement posted to Facebook Monday night, Kristin Kennedy says frontline workers were invited to receive their vaccines, but doses were still available and if not administered quickly would spoil.

According to Kennedy, provincial directives were followed and the decision was made to vaccinate the hospital's administration team.

Kennedy says, "It would be completely irresponsible to do otherwise, given the frontline work our administration is called upon to do."

Last Wednesday, a public relations worker at the hospital posted a photo of himself getting the vaccine to social media sparking outrage from members of the health care community.

The incident prompted a warning from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed reminding health officials to not ignore the ethical distribution of the vaccine.

The latest statement from Erie Shores HealthCare does not mention if the public relations worker in question has been reprimanded.

The full statement can be seen below:

Hello, everyone, and happy New Year to you and your families.

As the new CEO of Erie Shores, I would like to have an open and transparent approach to communication.  I know as both a community member and as a nurse when I started my career in health care, it was always what I appreciated most.

In the spirit of openness, I would like to discuss recent media stories from outlets based outside our region about ESHC's vaccination implementation that I feel require some missing local context that many of you know already.

Erie Shores is not like big hospitals in big cities. Our main inpatient facility has one floor, smaller than the food courts in some big hospitals. We have only 376 employees serving a geographical area larger than some European countries — a region including Leamington, Kingsville, Essex, Wheatley, Harrow, Amherstburg, and Belle River. This is a region that has an older average population compared with major centres and, as you may be aware, is at the centre of the agri-industry in Ontario. Being a smaller, rural area, we serve people who are our friends, our neighbours, and our family members.

So, when I read these stories that misrepresented who we are and what we are doing, I don't want to let it slide. Instead, I'll address you directly because you are who we work for.

Given our large geography and small workforce, when we have any kind of health care crisis, whether that be a major accident or COVID-19 surge cases as we have seen, we have an 'all hands on deck' approach to ensuring our patients are treated. That means anyone with a health care background at ESHC including our leadership team (which includes doctors and nurses), are called on to ‘gown up’ and assist with patients. This has happened repeatedly during the pandemic. I can tell you that I personally have worked alongside our frontline health care workers during the pandemic, within long-term care homes and the agri-sector. That's the expectation in a place like Erie Shores, and the leadership team is prepared to do more of the same as we face challenging days ahead. It’s the only way we can treat people in surge situations.

So, with all that said as context, as part of Phase 1 of the vaccination plan, when we had the opportunity, we offered the vaccine first to our front line health care workers. All front-line health care workers at ESHC who elected to receive the vaccine received it first. The Hospital is following all guidelines and directives provided by the provincial government in regards to its vaccine distribution implementation plan.  

Once our front-line workers were invited to receive their vaccine, we had vaccination appointments available and doses that had to be administered quickly or they would have to be discarded, helping no one. Following provincial directives, we chose to vaccinate our administration team. It would be completely irresponsible to do otherwise, given the front line work our administration is called upon to do. Even beyond our administrators who have or will work the front lines to assist, we included those in administration who enter the building regularly and have to interact with other staff and patients and their families of patients.

Unfortunately, one of our administrators shared his vaccination news on social media at a time when there is understandably much interest in the community surrounding vaccination wait times. As a result, it has created confusion and a misconception that was not helpful.

I want to assure people that Erie Shores HealthCare is completely focused on you and the communities we serve. We are working tirelessly to not only participate with the COVID-vaccine planning committee but to also treat those who have become infected, as well as meet non-COVID health care needs in the region.

We will continue by ensuring that vaccinations continue to be administered in compliance with the Province of Ontario's vaccine distribution implementation plan in a safe and efficient manner. Our goal is to keep our community healthy, and our actions will always reflect that goal.

Thank you for listening. Please stay safe, be healthy and be kind to one another.

— Kristin Kennedy, CEO, Erie Shores Healthcare